Comedy Central has cancelled its perpetually low-rated late-night program The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
The program, which replaced Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report at Comedy Central in 2015, will air its last show on Thursday.
“I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity,” Wilmore said in a statement. “But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
Network president Kent Alterman told USA Today that the program’s ratings were the main factor behind the decision to cancel the series.
“Even as the show has evolved creatively … it hasn’t seemed to connect with our audience, which is disconcerting and disappointing to us,” Alterman told the outlet. “When we took a hard look — especially after the conventions, where we also didn’t see any traction we were hoping for — we didn’t have enough evidence to justify committing to another year.”
Comedy Central will reportedly move the popular quiz show @midnight into the 11:30 p.m. slot following Trevor Noah’s Daily Show until a replacement program can be developed for the time slot.
Wilmore struggled in the ratings almost immediately after taking over for Colbert in January 2015. By February of this year, Wilmore’s ratings were down 55% from the Colbert Report, and coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and a controversial stint hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner earlier this year didn’t translate into higher ratings.
During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) earlier this year, Wilmore said he never intended his program to be similar to the Daily Show or Colbert Report.
“One of the missions of the show when we started was to be an answer to The Daily Show and focus on race, class and gender. It’s really those three things, though it seems like a lot of talk on race. It’s one of the ways we were distinguishing ourselves from The Daily Show,” he wrote.
Wilmore also constantly criticized and berated conservatives and Republicans in segments on his program. For example, a skit in May sought to brand Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s support of Second Amendment rights as racist.
Wilmore also created a firestorm in April at the White House Correspondents Dinner, when he used a racial slur while addressing President Obama.
“Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I’m going to keep it 100: Yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga. You did it,” the late-night host said toward the end of his performance. White House spokesman Josh Earnest later said the president “appreciated the sentiment” of Wilmore’s remarks.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum